Released: 14th May 2021
The release of Mercury Prize-nominated debut album ‘Lost & Found’ made Jorja Smith a household name, as well as propelling her to the top of a slew of best album lists in 2019. Since then, though, she’s gone relatively quiet. ‘Be Right Back’ breaks that silence, a not-quite-EP, not-quite-album length project which includes six new tracks alongside previous releases ‘Gone’ and ‘Addicted’.
Despite its status as a quick welcome back to her fans rather than a full-blown album, ‘Be Right Back’ isn’t scrappy or half-hearted. A polished, string-laden affair, it fits neatly as an evolution from ‘Lost & Found’ that doesn’t rock the boat too much. Jorja’s soulful vocals drift across R&B-flecked instrumentals, lending the whole project a laid-back vibe that doesn’t shift throughout.
Each of the tracks feels like a different angle on the same song, lending an air of a snapshot taken in time, rather than a proper exploration of the music we can expect from album two. Of these angles, ‘Bussdown’ is a highlight, standing out thanks to a feature from South London rapper Shaybo and one of the more animated choruses on offer.
‘Be Right Back’ isn’t a fully fleshed-out sequel to ‘Lost & Found’, but it isn’t meant to be, and judged on its own merits as something to tide fans over and show where Jorja Smith is right now it performs admirably. While it isn’t likely to convert people who didn’t like the debut, it’s a perfectly distilled example of what she does best. As to whether it works as a way of dodging the pressure of the ‘difficult second album’? We’ll just have to wait and see.